Selwyn Wilson: Artist and Teacher by Jocelyn Tarrant
In the recent North Island Inter-Secondary Schools' Art Competition sponsored by Bing Harris and Co., there were over 2,000 entries —and Northland College pupils gained the distinction of being awarded both first and second prizes. The two prize winners were Raewyn Bedggood, first, and Hera Ripia, from Ohaeawai, second. Another pupil, Mary Ayrton, was highly commended and fourteen others received certificates of merit.
It is to Selwyn Wilson, their art master, that these pupils, the school, and many adults in the community are quick to acknowledge a debt. Apart from showing his skill as an artist, Selwyn's lessons are highlighted by his very real interest in the progress of his pupils and a fund of stories with which to grip the attention of any listener.
Ngati Manu Tribe
Selwyn belongs to the Ngati Manu tribe. When he was born, at Taumarere in 1927. Selwyn was given the name Te Ngareatua by his grandfather, who prophesied that this, the youngest child of Kapu Reweti and Peter Wilson, would be a special child who would achieve distinction.
After attending the Kawakawa District High School, he went to study at the Elam School of Art. He could have chosen a well-paid position
Study in London
In 1957, after working with the Art section of the Department of Education in Auckland, Selwyn was awarded a Sir Apirana Ngata bursary to study ceramics at the Central School of Art, London. Unfortunately his studies were cut short by illness in his family, but nevertheless he did very well in London. Some of his pottery was placed in the permanent collection at the Central School, and he has also sold much of his work. Though pottery is his main interest he is also a painter, and two of his paintings are in the collection at the Auckland Art Gallery.
When he came back to New Zealand, Selwyn looked for a teaching position near his home. He was glad to accept one at Northland College, for while he wishes to service his Maori people, he is most interested in teaching where Maori and European are together. It is rewarding for him, and perhaps symbolic, that the winners of the competition should represent both races.
Selwyn finds his days well filled with his school duties and in maintaining his family home, but even so he freely gives his time to evening classes and adult education courses. At the moment this leaves no opportunity for him to continue with his own pottery and painting, but he hopes to start again next year. We certainly hope this will be so.
Many pupils like Hira Ripia, who started art classes by saying, ‘Wi, sir, but I'm no good!' have gained confidence by finding, with Selwyn's guidance, that they never know what they can do until they try. At least three of Selwyn's pupils have continued in art; Margaret Sampson of Waihi has completed her Diploma of Fine Art and is now teaching at Otorohanga, while Mere Harrison of Ruatoria and Buck Niu of Kaikohe are students at Elam.
When he was asked to what he considers his success is due, Selwyn replied doubtfully, “‘Success?”—Well, anything I have achieved has been due to hard work, tenacity, and to the determination of my parents.’
We have received a request for a Maori penfriend from Mr E. J. Pilkington, of 727 East 8th Avenue, Vancouver 10, B.C., Canada.
He writes that he would like a penfriend, regardless of age and sex, to whom he could send pictures and information about Canada, and who could send him pictures and information about Maoris and New Zealand.
Mr Pilkington is in his late 50s, a war veteran, and an Anglican by faith.
Under the Sale of Liquor Bill introduced in Parliament by the Minister of Justice and Maori Affairs, Mr Hanan, it is made illegal for hotels to refuse accommodation, meals or liquor to any person because of race, colour, nationality or beliefs.
Mr Hanan said this was a new provision which he was sure all Members of Parliament would welcome.